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The National Weather Service is adding a new classification to their severe thunderstorm warning alerts: a destructive severe thunderstorm.

Currently all warnings - flash flood, severe thunderstorm, tornado - are sent out as emergency alerts via NOAA weather radio and to broadcast radio and television stations, however, beginning June 28th a new class of severe thunderstorm warning could be sent to your cell phone. The 'Destructive Severe Thunderstorm Warning'.

Because all thunderstorms are not created equally, the National Weather Service wants to convey the severity of individual storms to the public and the impacts they could cause on life and property due to wind and hail.

The new warning designations will be tagged to a severe thunderstorm warning:

  • DESTRUCTIVE - The criteria for a destructive damage threat is at least 2.75 inch diameter (baseball-sized) hail and/or 80 mph thunderstorm winds. Warnings with this tag will automatically activate a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on smartphones within the warned area.
  • CONSIDERABLE - The criteria for a considerable damage threat is at least 1.75 inch diameter (golf ball-sized) hail and/or 70 mph thunderstorm winds. A Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) will not be activated on this designation.
  • BASELINE - The criteria for a baseline or “base” severe thunderstorm warning remains unchanged, 1.00 inch (quarter-sized) hail and/or 58 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA. When no damage threat tag is present, damage is expected to be at the base level.

The National Weather Service says that only about 10 percent of the severe thunderstorm warnings that get issued each year in the U.S. would reach the new 'Destructive Thunderstorm Warning' criteria. East Texans could possibly see this alert come across their phones because we do experience some strong storms from supercell thunderstorms. If you are in an area that receives a message like this you'll want to take shelter in a sturdy building as soon as possible.

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